Saturday, April 13, 2024

‘Hodapp in the Bronx Tuesday’


Chris Hodapp will be in New York for a speaking engagement Tuesday.

D. Hosler photo
Pelham Lodge 712, in the Bronx, will host America’s favorite Masonic author, raconteur, Dummy, etc.

Lodge tiles at 7:30. The lecture on Freemasonry will be very different from that you’ll receive from your wife upon your return home.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

‘Back in the Philalethes Society again’

Philalethes Society membership jewel.

I rejoined the Philalethes Society—again. I had been a member in the nineties and into the early years of this century, but quit because the leadership back then deserved Moe Howard nose-pulls and foot-stomps.

I rejoined several years ago, when Rashied was president (and when I was president of the Masonic Society), but that lapsed when I wasn’t paying attention. But I’m back again and just received the electronic version of Volume 76, Number 4 of The Philalethes, the final issue under President Ben Williams’ tenure. His President’s Message mentions the launch of a Philalethes chapter in Texas. If you know the history of Texas and the Philalethes Society, you appreciate how times have changed!

Anyway, when I rejoined two months ago, I volunteered to revive Knickerbocker Chapter, New York City’s Philalethes chapter, so if you are a member of the Society who resides in or near the city, you’ll hear from me eventually to ascertain your interest in getting together for pastrami, fellowship, and Masonic learning.

Knickerbocker Chapter has been dormant for a number of years, at least since Bill Thomas relocated to Florida, but applying the defibrillator shouldn’t be too difficult. I received a list of Philalethes members who reside in New York and environs, and I will contact everyone in the New York City area to enquire into their willingness to reform the chapter. According to The Rules, we’ll need four officers to complete a modicum of paperwork; a membership to do the eating, drinking, (smoking, hopefully), and supplying of the Masonic learning; and a place to meet.

Officers are asked to sport the Society’s membership jewel; members are encouraged to do likewise (and I ordered mine yesterday). Everyone shall be Master Masons. Chapter officers will be Philalethes members, and everyone else will be shown how to join.

It’s simple. Click here. And look for my email inviting you to get involved.

Monday, April 8, 2024

‘Jerusalem Amity’s 225th anniversary’


Happy 225th anniversary to Jerusalem Amity Chapter 8 of Royal Arch Masons in New York City!

It was on this date in 1799 when Jerusalem Chapter was set to labor downtown in a tavern at the corner of today’s Hanover and Beaver streets. Jerusalem Chapter was where Lafayette was made a Royal Arch Mason during his 1824 visit to the city. We’ll hear a lot more about that come September.

(Plans are being drawn upon the trestleboard for a statewide celebration of that bicentenary. The plotters enjoyed an amazing Zoom conference last night.)

Click on the video uploaded to YouTube several hours ago, and join EHP Anthony for a celebratory libation.

‘Freemasonry in Popular Culture: call for papers’

The 2024 conference was only days ago, but the call for papers for 2025 is out.

From the publicity:

Call for Papers
13th International Conference
on Freemasonry
April 2025

We are now accepting proposals for academic paper presentations for the 13th International Conference on Freemasonry, sponsored by the Grand Lodge of California, to be held in April 2025 on the UCLA campus.

The theme for the conference is “Freemasonry in Popular Culture: 1700 to Yesterday.”

Susan Mitchell Sommers
Topics are open but should be closely matched to the theme of the conference. Proposals dealing with print, music, theater, film, and architecture are especially welcome. Successful proposals will adhere to academic standards of research and composition and pursue original analyses. Please send CV and 500-word proposal to Susan Mitchell Sommers here

Proposals are due August 1, 2024.

Travel and accommodations will be covered for those speakers who are selected.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

‘Researchers to visit North Carolina’


Civil War Lodge of Research 1865 will meet this month, taking it on the road to North Carolina. The lodge, now in its twenty-eighth year, is chartered by the Grand Lodge of Virginia AF&AM, but it has dispensation to travel outside the Commonwealth in its pursuit of historical facts concerning the U.S. Civil War, especially where Freemasonry’s history intersects.

Bingham 272
On Saturday, April 13, the lodge will meet at Bingham Lodge 272 in Mebane, North Carolina. Worshipful Master John Butler chose the location for its proximity to Bennett Place, a short drive east to Durham. It was there where the Confederate commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and U.S. Gen. William T. Sherman met in a little farmhouse and negotiated surrender terms in April 1865, coming to an agreement on April 26. (The U.S. Civil War did not conclude with one single surrender of Lee to Grant. Commanders in four different theaters about the country negotiated surrenders eventually disbanding the Confederate States Army.)

It’s a little too far for me, so I’ll miss this one, but the lodge has a solid weekend plan including Friday night dinner in Burlington; the lodge meeting, followed by lunch on Saturday; the visit to Bennett Place afterward; and a Saturday night dinner yet to be worked out. This edition of The Magpie Mason is intended to encourage Masons in the area to attend the meeting and other stops. Bingham Lodge 272 meets at 309 East Center Street in Mebane. If I’m not mistaken, North Carolina Lodge of Research is no longer at labor, but there is the North Carolina Masonic Research Society, and hopefully they’ll get the word and come to our meeting.

Coincidentally, that weekend will be the anniversary of the attack on Fort Sumter.

I’ll be with the lodge again on July 13 when we’ll meet in Delaware.

Monday, April 1, 2024

‘A little British humour’

A whimsical April Fools’ Day joke from the admin of the UGLE’s Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London’s social media:

Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter are pleased to announce the “One Journey” Apron for use by Master Masons who are also Exaltees. It can be worn in both Craft Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters and clearly portrays the indissoluble link between the two. The Apron will be available from 12 noon today, so it can be worn at Metropolitan Grand Chapter on 17th April 2024.

Ricky Gervais’ Dutch Barn spots it is not, but a good effort.

‘Hudson Valley Masonicon coming in June’


The guys up in the Hudson Valley are doing it again. The 2024 Hudson Valley Masonicon is scheduled for Saturday, June 8 at Hoffman Lodge 412 in Middletown.

Joe Martinez, of The Masonic Roundtable podcast, will be the keynote speaker. (I read somewhere on the web that he is named after Martinez de Pasqually.)

I’m sure the rest of the roster will be engaging and entertaining. I’ll report those names when they are made available.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

‘Remember The Maine Lodge of Research’

I close the month of March with some good news from Maine. Concern was expressed on social media earlier this month about The Maine Lodge of Research’s well being, specifically that it had gone dark.

Not true.

Secretary Derek informed me tonight that the March 23 meeting was canceled (due to weather), and it is working through some leadership challenges, but the lodge plans on being back to normal for 2025. I’ll remember to check in and I’ll let you know then.

Bangor Daily News

Worry also was voiced about Louisiana Lodge of Research, but I don’t have any news on that. I’ll be in New Orleans in a couple of months, so maybe I’ll find out something.

Friday, March 29, 2024

‘Fête Lafayette’

Chuck Schwam, Executive Director of The American Friends of Lafayette.

YouTube was abuzz last night with talk of Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. Bro. Lafayette, as you and I might know him.

First, on the American Revolution Institute’s channel, Mr. Chuck Schwam, Executive Director of The American Friends of Lafayette, discusses Lafayette’s farewell tour of America of 1824-25, and of the American Friends’ plans to celebrate the bicentenary nationwide with multiple events, including a banquet at the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia. The partying will begin in August here in New York City. Click here.

“The Masons and the Society of the Cincinnati were important because they came out in droves when Lafayette came around,” he says. “In fact, I don’t know if Lafayette would have come to America if he wasn’t a Mason, so the Masons are very much involved with our bicentennial events.”

Eye-popping history from Bro. Ruli.

Also, Bro. Chris Ruli, author of the upcoming Brother Lafayette, due out in August, appeared on the Masonic Roundtable podcast to reveal some of the research that comprises his book, some of which will surprise you, such as Lafayette not being welcome to participate in Paris’ official mourning of George Washington’s death—plain political snubbing of the hero.

Budget a couple of hours to enjoy both videos.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

‘Grand Lodge of Finland celebration’

Worshipful Master Michael, right, presents Grand Secretary Richard Schulz with a handsome parting gift for being The ALR’s keynote speaker in our table lodge last night.

Last night was the long awaited table lodge hosted by The American Lodge of Research to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Grand Lodge of Finland.

You’d be excused for wondering why a lodge in New York City would commemorate a Finnish birthday, but there’s a good reason: It was the Grand Lodge of New York that reintroduced Freemasonry to the Land of a Thousand Lakes after that nation regained its independence from Russia.

The ALR commemorated that centennial anniversary specifically on March 26 because it was on that very date in 1924 when New York’s lodges in Finland petitioned our Grand Lodge for permission to organize their own sovereign grand lodge.

Right Worshipful Brother Richard T. Schulz, Grand Secretary, recounted much of that history in his keynote address amid the many toasts and fires during the evening. He explained how Freemasonry arrived in Finland during the eighteenth century, but was suppressed by Russian rule following that country’s seizure of Finland in 1809 after victory over Sweden in war. After the chaos of the fall of the Russian Empire in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution and Russia’s exit from World War I, Finland was free, and the new republic was safe for Freemasonry.

Masons residing in Finland, who held memberships in American grand lodges, were joined by other prominent Finnish citizens who were made Masons by a delegation of New York brethren led by Most Worshipful Arthur S. Tompkins, Grand Master. On August 14, 1922, Dispensation was granted to establish Suomi Lodge in Helsinki. Other lodges soon were organized and Right Worshipful Toivo H. Nekton of Greenwood Lodge 569 in Brooklyn, a native of Finland, was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the new Masonic territory. (Parenthetically, I’ll add how Nekton published a paper in The ALR’s Transactions. See “Highlights in the History of American Freemasonry in Finland 1922-1929” in Volume 6, Number 1 from 1953.)

On March 26, 1924, these lodges requested leave “to form an autonomous sovereign Grand Lodge, which shall have power to issue dispensations and charters to, and constitute subordinate lodges, conferring the three degrees in Masonry within the Republic of Finland; and to exercise a grand and competent jurisdiction over such subordinate lodges and the brethren forming the same.” That request was granted by Grand Lodge, and a delegation from New York returned to Helsinki in September to constitute this newest Grand Lodge.

Grand Lodge has been publicizing the trip to Finland since last year. This display is found in Masonic Hall on the ground floor.

RW Schulz brought the brethren up to modern times, discussing his visit to Finland in 2019 for their ninety-fifth anniversary, and displaying commemorative souvenirs he received. Of course he apprised the lodge of the upcoming centennial anniversary celebration and of the travel arrangements being made for New York Masons to visit for an extensive program of events scheduled for September 2-11 of this year.

Junior Warden Yves Etienne procured coffee mugs for everyone to take home.

RW Steven A. Rubin, Deputy Grand Master, concluded the brevities of the evening with praise for the singular purpose of research lodges, and of the quality output of The ALR particularly, noting how the Masons who undertake the labor of researching and writing about our fraternity’s past help guide today’s Masons in their journeys.

The ALR will meet next in June, probably late in the month after St. John’s Weekend, for its Installation of Officers.

Monday, March 25, 2024

‘Public LDH seminar to offer two discussions’

Le Droit Humain has announced an open-to-the-public seminar for Sunday, April 14 at 11 a.m.

From the publicity:

The American Federation of the International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women, Le Droit Humain, is holding a public seminar in which two topics will be covered.

Freemasonry: A Community
or an Institution?

It is sometimes stated that Freemasonry is an institution. It is an organization that instills “the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity” and assists each of us and all “to achieve for all human beings, the maximum moral, intellectual and spiritual development.” Individual happiness and a warm, loving community can be the result.

The Mystery Schools

The term “mystery schools” generally refers to ancient, esoteric schools of spiritual, philosophical, and mystical teachings. They were called “mystery” schools because they taught secret or hidden knowledge that was only revealed to initiates who underwent a series of rites and rituals to gain access to this knowledge. Mystery schools existed in various ancient cultures, including Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Near East. Their teachings often focused on the nature of the universe, the human soul, and the divine, as well as practices aimed at spiritual transformation and enlightenment. The exact teachings and practices of these schools were closely guarded secrets and were often passed down orally or through symbolic rituals.

Each presentation will be followed by a discussion. In-person attendance at this event in Catonsville, Maryland is limited, but Zoom access will be available to all interested.

You are fraternally invited to attend!

To register, send an email here before April 5. Please indicate if you wish to join the session in-person in Catonsville or the Zoom session. Needed is your name, contact information, and why you’re interested in attending the seminar.

For more information about our history, click here.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

‘On the road to the East, 24 inches at a time’

The Road to the East class today in 2 East.

I ought to have tackled this years ago, but it was only this morning that I finally attended Grand Lodge’s Road to the East course. Or Part I at least. The second half will take place in a few weeks. It didn’t seem necessary to me these past nine years, but since I’ll be installed in the East of The American Lodge of Research in June (that’s the plan anyway), it occurred to me I’d better receive this good and wholesome instruction.

One of the dozens of PowerPoint slides.

The sum of that instruction is in the form of an unwieldy binder titled The 24-Inch Gauge Masonic Resource Guide that is available to New York Masons from our Grand Lodge’s business office. It contains accumulated knowledge and wisdom from the ages. The current version is dated 2018 and could use refreshing. (Just speaking as an editor, there are things in here that drive me bananas.) Here’s the advice on lodge publications:

But it’s a must read because it is a broad compendium of information about our fraternity’s idiomatic ways of doing things. I won’t make any friends by offering this advice, but every lodge should acquire a copy, digitize it, and make it available to the brethren. Sorry.

It was a fun, interactive class led by Bro. Tomas, the Fourth Manhattan District’s Staff Officer (and incoming District Deputy Grand Master), with the assistance of Bro. Philippe, our retiring DDGM. There were fourteen students in attendance, including the Wardens and Junior Deacon of Publicity Lodge.

Bro. Michael Siegel, in a video presentation, explained how to navigate the more than 400 pages of our law book. Will you guys please stop making new laws? Barring future scientific advancements, like the cloning of Masons, everything has been covered and codified into law already.

I realize the prospective Master of a research lodge—talk about idiom!—actually doesn’t require this training, but it’s perfectly worthwhile and is a big part of the education and development our Grand Lodge makes available.

(Just speaking again as an editor, there are things in the 24-Inch Gauge book that make me coconuts. See the mentions of Elias Ashmole, the Cooke MS, et al. You can’t have everything.)

Saturday, March 16, 2024

‘A great Grotto day’

Grotto ceremonial today hosted by Simba in south Jersey. Grand Monarch Victor Mann and Grand Master Len Vander Horn were present.

Great day today way out in Pennsauken, New Jersey—right outside Philadelphia—for a Grotto Ceremonial on this, the sixteenth day of International Grotto Month.

The occasion brought together Prophets from five or six Grottoes, including Grand Monarch Victor Mann himself. Simba Grotto hosted at Merchantville Lodge 119 and was joined by others from Shamaliu, Azim, Delco, and one prophet from both Zal Gas and Tri Po Bed.

Grand Historian/District Deputy Grand Monarch Frank Sforza took the lead on the ritual, and was brilliant as usual—even working in a few ad libbed quips at the expense of the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, MW Len Vander Horn, who was a good sport about it.

Don’t forget the Empire State Grotto Association’s Spring Convention at Kingston, New York, April 19-21. Then, of course, in June, the 134th Supreme Council Session at New Orleans.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

‘Hodapp at Nutley 25 in June’

Chris Hodapp will be in the New York area for a speaking engagement in June.

D. Hosler photo
Nutley Lodge 25, located in Nutley, New Jersey, will host America’s favorite Masonic author, raconteur, Dummy, etc. on the night of Monday, June 17. The lodge is very easy to reach from the Lincoln Tunnel via Route 3.

Lodge tiles at 7:30. See you there.

Monday, March 11, 2024

‘We should ever be industrious ones’

The Bee Hive

Is an emblem of industry, and recommends the practice of that virtue to all created beings, from the highest seraph in heaven, to the lowest reptile of the dust. It teaches us, that as we came into the world rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones, never sitting down contented while our fellow creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them, without inconvenience to ourselves.

When we take a survey of nature, we view man, in his infancy, more helpless and indigent than the brutal creation: he lies languishing for days, months, and years, totally incapable of providing sustenance for himself, of guarding against the attack of the wild beasts of the field, or sheltering himself from the inclemencies of the weather. It might have pleased the great Creator of heaven and earth to have made man independent of all other beings but, as dependence is one of the strongest bonds of society, mankind were made dependent on each other for protection and security, as they thereby enjoy better opportunities of fulfilling the duties of reciprocal love and friendship. Thus was man formed for social and active life, the noblest part of the work of God, and he that will so demean himself, as not to be endeavoring to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding, may be deemed a drone in the hive of nature, a useless member of society, and unworthy of our protection as Masons.

Jeremy Ladd Cross
The True Masonic Chart, or Hieroglyphic Monitor, Containing All the Emblems Explained in the Degrees
1854 edition

The Beehive State adopted a new design for its flag Saturday, one that emphasizes the beehive at its center more so than the previous flag.

That banner, which displays the Utah seal at center, will remain in use for official ceremonies and events. This new flag employs the colors blue, white, and red, symbolizing blue skies, snowy mountains, and the redrock canyons, respectively.

To the uninitiated eye, the beehives in both the new and old flags befit the state’s one-word motto: Industry. (The state insect, unsurprisingly, is the Western honey bee.) The initiated eye, though, should be able to connect the beehive to Utah’s Mormon history and, from there, to Freemasonry. It’s a long and complicated story, but the first members of the Latter Day Saints Church included a number of Freemasons.

Joseph Smith, founder of the church, was made a Mason at sight by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Illinois in 1842 while the congregation was based in Nauvoo. Within eighteen months, there were five Masonic lodges consisting of Mormons in Nauvoo, then one of the largest cities in the Midwest. In time, the Mormons would move to Utah, and would repudiate Freemasonry and secret societies.

Researchers have presented the facts many times over the generations, and I urge you to hit the books if the subject moves you.

The beehive (one word these days) enters Masonic ritual via Jeremy L. Cross’ The True Masonic Chart, first published in 1819. Another story with many details, so read up on him too.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

‘Call for papers: The Scottish Enlightenment’


A productive and eventful meeting of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786 yesterday morning. I can’t even complain about the commute, which passed without much aggravation—a singular occurrence! Two very engaging papers were presented, both of which successfully threaded the needle of speculative theses supported by research.

Before all that, though, was a lengthy conversation in support of an initiative unique to New Jersey Freemasonry. For several years, brethren of the research lodge, acting independently, have been memorializing John Skene, the seventeenth century Scottish Mason from the lodge in Aberdeen, who emigrated to West Jersey in 1682, becoming the first Mason in the New World. (Click here to learn about the first such event in 2022.)

Last year, the Skene celebration matured into an academic conference (click here). This year, the conference will continue, and the call for papers went out just days ago. From the publicity:

Conference Theme: The Scottish Enlightenment
Date: Saturday, August 24
Location: Crescent Shriners, 700 Highland Dr., Westampton, New Jersey
Submission via email: click here
Subject Fields: American History/Studies; Atlantic History/Studies; British History/Studies; Cultural History/Studies; Humanities; Immigration & Migration History/Studies; Intellectual History; Philosophy; Religious Studies and Theology; Social History/Studies

Call for Papers: John Skene, the conference’s namesake and first known Freemason in the New World, arrived at a time of great intellectual change. The 2024 John Skene Masonic Conference theme is “The Scottish Enlightenment” and seeks to investigate the links between the Scottish Enlightenment, the Atlantic World, the American Revolution, and the Enlightenment more broadly. With the 1707 Acts of Union, Scottish elites followed the power to London, leaving space for the emerging middle class to take the cultural, political, and social reins. The intellectual movement that resulted included key concepts that would come to have an underappreciated impact on the modern world. Key to understanding this is the concurrent growth of Freemasonry, emerging in 1717 as English Freemasons established the first Grand Lodge.

Deadline: Friday, May 3.

Our annual conference seeks to explore the ways in which the Enlightenment in Scotland brought new ideas to the forefront and expanded the movement more broadly. Freemasonry’s concurrent expansion provided a network that shared a common cultural and intellectual lineage. How did these two movements interact? How did the Enlightenment in Scotland spread during the Scottish diaspora? And how did Freemasonry draw from Scottish intellectual roots to become a center of cosmopolitan colonial life in British North America?

Specifically we are looking for proposals that will fit into panels on:

▸ The Scottish Enlightenment
▸ The Scottish Enlightenment in America
▸ The Enlightenment in America

Magpie file photo

With this broad theme we hope to explore the connections between the Enlightenment and Freemasonry, and the Scottish Enlightenment as a specific movement spread by the Scottish diaspora. While papers dealing directly with Freemasonry are encouraged, the committee is seeking out speakers on broad topics of the Enlightenment in these contexts, particularly if the papers touch on prominent Masons/Masonic Lodges/networks.

Papers may be published in a possible joint volume of conference transactions.

The committee is looking for broad/introductory research on the following areas: Scottish Enlightenment, the Scottish Enlightenment in America, New Jersey and the Enlightenment.

Conference Mission: The John Skene Masonic Conference is an annual event crossover conversation between Masons and those who study our gentle craft. Held in commemoration of John Skene, the first known Freemason in the New World, who settled in West Jersey at the end of the seventeenth century. Along with a memorial held at Peachfield, his plantation home outside Burlington, New Jersey, the conference aims to serve as an annual venue for research and conversation on the broader historical role Freemasonry has played within the New Jersey, colonial, American, and Atlantic contexts.

Regarding publication of the papers presented, part of the long conversation at our meeting yesterday culminated in the agreement to share these papers in the lodge’s book of transactions. In fact, the research lodge will serve as a sponsor of the August 24 event to help clear the legal, financial, etc. hurdles of organizing a complicated day. Of course, The Magpie Mason will keep you updated, including a notice when tickets go on sale.

But about the research lodge meeting: Bro. Glenn presented The Meaning of the Three Ruffians, which explored psychological, etymological, and other facets of the identities of You Know Who. Bro. Howard returned to the lectern in his usual style with Who Was the Widow’s Son? A Discourse on Confusion, which also delved into word origins, plus Biblical and ancient histories, excursions to Greece and Graceland, and even a mention of Groucho Marx. Well done!

Friday, March 8, 2024

‘Salon de la Rose + Croix returns’


The Salon de la Rose + Croix will return to the Livingston Library later this month for the lecture series. From the publicity:

Livingston Library
Live Lecture Series
March 27 at 7:30 p.m.
The Salon de la Rose + Croix
From Darkness to Light:
The Orphic and Rosicrucian
Path to Divine Unity

A philosophical and spiritual exploration through the Orphic mystery tradition and Rosicrucian thought, and the quest for divine unity. This lecture shares invaluable insights from ancient Greek culture and discusses hermetic and alchemical symbols, and artistic expressions that guide the soul from darkness to enlightenment and beyond.

The presenters are Tony Crisos and Ian Pedigo. 71 West 23rd Street, Manhattan. Tenth floor, French Ionic Room.

Tony Crisos

Tony Crisos is a versatile composer, guitarist, lyre player, philosopher, writer, and lecturer, holding a BA in Music Performance from Berklee College of Music and an MA in Music Education from Boston University. Deeply engaged with ancient Greek philosophy and religion, he founded the modern Salon De La Rose + Croix tradition at the Grand Lodge of New York. As a Hellenic priest in the initiatic lineage of Orpheus, he represents Spyridon Nagos’s lineage on ancient Greek tradition in the U.S. Tony has published extensively, notably revitalizing the Orphic tradition and the Pythagorean Harmony of the Spheres doctrine, and currently contributes as an independent researcher to the Interdisciplinary Society for Quantitative Research in Music and Medicine.

Ian Pedigo
Ian Pedigo has been a practicing visual artist for the past 25 years. He has a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas. Since that time, he has made work and exhibited at galleries and museums both nationally and internationally, with shows in nine countries. His work has been written about in the New York Times and The New Yorker, among other publications, as well as a monograph of his work published in 2011.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

‘Daily Masonic Progress starts now’


This morning begins the collaboration of Craftsmen Online and RW Bro. Darren Allatt of Australia, blogger and podcaster extraordinaire. He has been guiding his own audience through his production, “Daily Masonic Progress,” and now he joins Craftsmen Online’s podcast team. His segments will appear on Thursdays.

Craftsmen Online, while based in New York, is not an official voice of the Grand Lodge of New York, although that august authority endorses the independent platform. It was launched about four years ago, during the pandemic, by RW Steve Rubin, now our Deputy Grand Master, and W. Bro. Michael Arce, a veteran broadcaster of many years experience.

Darren Allatt is a Past Master of The Leichhardt Lodge 133, and is a Past Junior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales & Australian Capital Territory. He has been writing brilliantly on Substack for almost a year. I recommend his blog without any hesitation, mental reservation, etc.

With all that out of the way, you should listen to two episodes of the Craftsmen Online podcast unveiled this morning. Click here to enjoy a 27-minute Arce-Allatt interview. Click here to make your Daily Masonic Progress with the 10-minute debut.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

‘Cole’s Constitutions?’

Donald-Kern paper
Benjamin Cole’s Constitutions actually was printed in 1729, but was ‘prepared in advance of Lord Kingston’s installation as Grand Master in December 1728,’ according to Ian Donald’s and Marshall Kern’s paper. (Interestingly, Kingston would become Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland a few years later.)

I learned of something Sunday night during a Zoom meeting of the Masonic Library and Museum Association. It arose from a side comment during a discussion about, of all things, insurance.

My own role during the meeting was to reveal the embryonic flatplan of the newsletter I’ll start producing for the association this month. That took two minutes and then we continued through the agenda. It was during a conversation about having valuables professionally appraised and insured that this unexpected gift materialized.

Bro. Ian Donald, Grand Librarian of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, mentioned how his library could not arrange insurance on irreplaceable treasures, such as its copy of Cole’s Constitutions.

My senses heightened—as whenever I suddenly detect the aroma of a Cavendish pipe mixture.

Cole’s Constitutions?

An interrupting question about it would have been untimely, so I jotted the name in my notes to look it up later. One item we find through a simple Google search is the paper “Benjamin Cole’s 1728 Constitutions: a footnote to Masonic history” written by the same Ian Donald and Ontario Grand Historian Marshall Kern (also in the Zoom meeting), with additional material by Ric Berman.

Find that here on Quatuor Coronati 2076’s Inventing the Future website.

Donald-Kern paper

“Benjamin Cole is relatively well known,” say the authors. “He was almost certainly born in Oxford, and lived and worked in Oxford and London. He was the first of three generations of the Cole family to work not only as engravers and printers, but also as official engravers to the Grand Lodge of England.”

“Cole’s 1728/9 Constitutions were reprinted in 1731 but the book failed to achieve widespread acceptance,” they also report. “It is relatively easy to understand why. Cole’s Constitutions harks back to the medieval Old Charges, including a duty ‘to be true to the King and the Lord that they serve,’ and a recital of principally operative obligations. It is in many respects at some distance from the Enlightenment principles and enjoinments expounded by Desaguliers, Payne, and Anderson in the 1723 Constitutions, and almost a regression towards the past rather than a pivot on which Freemasonry turned to the future.”

Donald-Kern paper
I want to see the book if for no other reason than to have ‘The Fairy Elves Song.’

A terrific paper about what sounds like an absorbing oddity. Check it out and maybe win a drink in a bet at the bar after a meeting sometime.

My thanks to Bro. Ian for mentioning it the other night.

Monday, March 4, 2024

‘Try a Lodge of Discussion’

T. Maccarone photo
Last Monday at Connetquot 838.

You’ve heard of “lodge of instruction” and “lodge of improvement” and “lodge of research” and maybe others, but a new term came my way last week: “lodge of discussion.”

That is what took place last Monday at Connetquot Lodge 838 on Long Island. I wasn’t there—wish I had been—and know only what was mentioned very briefly on social media by Deputy Grand Master Steven Rubin:

Members of the lodge engaged in a thoughtful conversation on the culture of their lodge and members’ expectations.

I’d bet that summarizes it succinctly, and I wouldn’t share the details of that conversation anyway. I just think it’s a marvelous idea for a night at lodge. I’m from a lodge founded by advertising professionals, so the activity strikes me as market research. Maybe trying this would help you. Give it a shot. We’re supposed to be mindful of membership retention. Talking over member expectations and lodge identity may prevent the loss of a brother.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

‘Mecca marks a magician’s birth’

Mecca Shrine chose McSorley’s
for its premier First Friday bash.

The nobles of Mecca Shrine, the mother shrine of the entire Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine world, gathered at McSorley’s Friday night to commemorate the birth of one of their own.

As you’ll see on his Mecca petition, Houdini
called himself an author, lecturer, and mystifier.

Harry Houdini, one of the most famous celebrities of the early twentieth century, was a magician, illusionist, and escape artist whose exploits drew thousands who came to watch in an age when mass media meant newspapers.

History says Houdini’s birthdate was March 24,
but Houdini, on his Mecca petition, said April 6.

The 150th anniversary of Houdini’s birth will be March 24 April 6, but Mecca has a new inspiration to get together and party: First Fridays.

Just launched, on the first Friday of the month, the nobles and their ladies will convene somewhere for food and drinks, not unlike the Lucky 7 plan at Azim Grotto, when the prophets do likewise on the seventh day of the month (this Thursday, in fact, at the Trailer Park down the street from Masonic Hall).

Houdini was a Master Mason at St. Cecile Lodge 568.

I haven’t been there since before the pandemic.
Good to see it hasn’t changed!

I guess Thom ordered his ale off the kids menu.

Mecca says they donated an antique fez
to McSorley’s museum.

The photos speak for themselves. Good to see Deputy Grand Master Steve Rubin getting out of the house for once!

(The Magpie Mason is not a Shriner. I had been with Salaam many years ago. What happened was the Knights of the North had a demit contest and—just to get on the scoreboard, y’understand—I gave up the Shrine and Sciots.)

All photos courtesy Mecca Shrine 1.